Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hamming It Up; Food Jamon London! There's Only One Thing Left on the Festive Agenda -- Time to Pig out, Says Victoria Stewart

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hamming It Up; Food Jamon London! There's Only One Thing Left on the Festive Agenda -- Time to Pig out, Says Victoria Stewart

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Stewart

THE huge, rectangular box lands with a thump. Two minutes later colleagues scramble around my desk. "Oohs!" and "aahs!" and a collective "mmm" follow.

Inside sits a large, mustard-coloured Serrano jamon. But this is not jamon as you might have seen offered by one of London's experts -- Enrique Tomas, Jose or Brindisa -- where you can buy it (serrano and Iberico) for between PS95 and PS700. This one is available from Lidl for PS39.99.

Beyond the office, London is going ham crazy this Christmas. "My knives are ready," tweeted one Spanish ham master recently, while Enrique Tomas has been tweeting his own slicing tips throughout December. Others are comparing their favourite English ham recipes; Nigella Lawson's, which entails cooking ham in two litres of Coca-Cola, appears to be popular.

Meanwhile, in its Brixton and Borough Market shops, Brindisa -- which supplies its Teruel ham to department stores and restaurants including Bentleys and Fernandez & Wells -- now hosts fortnightly ham carving and wine classes. In Bermondsey, chef Jose Pizarro has already sold 485 jamons across his two restaurants -- selling one a day at Jose -- while at Iberica London, 500 full jamons are now purchased annually. And according to a spokesperson from Lidl, the supermarket has increased its stock volume of jamon this year "due to its enormous popularity".

Then last week Spaniard Blanca Rowe opened a tiny restaurant in Peckham called Miss Tapas, an extension of her wholesale iberico jamon business. Having come to London four years ago she met her boyfriend Frank two years afterwards and remembers him asking if she'd like to go to a Spanish restaurant for their first date.

"I said I'm not going to a Spanish restaurant here -- it will be too expensive and not good," she laughs. "But he took me to Jose and it was amazing ... I thought I would love to bring a bit of my Spain here. I would love to have a restaurant like one I would go to in Seville, where I'm from ... I think there is a lack of understanding about how good [Spanish food] is in London. I mean, a guy recently asked me if jamon was even pork! …

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